sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Harlee - Marit 3

_______________________________________

 To Friendship

An unraveling thread
suspends my heart
in the Universe.

One push can crush it,
one word
destroy it.

One or two at a time
hands appear
and hold me,

each touch leaves
its fingerprints
of compassion.

Surrounding my life
comes the vibration
of voices,

within each note
a rhythm
of healing whispers.

A patchwork quilt
of love
covers my soul.

Each square
a hand or voice
that shares its spirit.

They protect
and cradle
my aching memories

of joy and gratitude
and do not
let me fall.

mg, April 2016

_______________________________________

Less than two months ago, I had to make one of those heart-wrenching decisions, one that truly has only a single option that is fair, humane, respects quality of life, and is a gift when a kindred soul is suffering.

Almost eight years ago, we adopted Harlee, an amazing almost-three-year-old Standard Poodle. We were her third permanent home. While we knew almost nothing about her history, she told us her story over the years. We saw how she reacted to sounds and movements, people, and — especially — other dogs.

With our love and support, she learned to trust us, and realize that she was finally safe. At times when she didn’t get the attention she needed, she was able to communicate her fear that she was going to be abandoned again.

Those times became fewer and further apart because she learned to not be afraid to let us know she was worried. At first, she tried to hide her aging issues, and it took a while to realize why she was reluctant to run down the stairs to go for a walk.

A leap of trust and faith was when she let us in on her problem. She couldn’t get into the car, and allowed us help her with a boost, and later, by finally agreeing to use “stairs” we got for her to walk up into it.

An easy jump onto our bed morphed to a running start to make it, then a boost of her back end, and, near the end, letting us pick her up and get her situated.

When she could no longer support herself to maintain her dignity when outside, she let me know she was ready to let go. We were very fortunate to have a wonderful veterinary clinic that had treated her throughout her time with us. They loved her, and she adored them, regardless of what she had done.

At the end, they were there for and with us, truly surrounded us with love and compassion, tears and shared sorrow. We received a sympathy card after, with notes from each of the staff. We will never forget the care and kindness of Dr. Sheila Johnson and her staff at Animal Health Associates.

Another major part of Harlee’s life was spend in grooming, which, like all dogs that have hair instead of fur, needs attention. At least monthly, she was excited to spend time with her friends there. I called it her Poodle Parlor spa day.

The picture of Harlee above was taken by Marit Vike, owner of Send Rover Over, last fall. I played with the background, wanting to feel her float in the clouds, but Marit captured her inquisitive look beautifully.

Perhaps people who don’t have pets, or never had the chance or courage to form the bond, don’t understand what I’m writing about. I knew walking into the relationship that I’d have to say goodbye to Harlee long before I was ready to do it.

I knew my heart would break. Part of the life cycle — the part I rage against and never want to accept. I’d been through this before, with Madame Wa, our other Standard Poodle we’d raised from a pup, nursed through all kinds of maladies, traveled thousands of miles with after we retired. She was almost fifteen when we had to let her go in peace.

I learned so much from these two friends, companions, kindred spirits; they looked out for me as much as I did for them. I experienced what unconditional love means and feels like. My life is empty from loss, but full with memories, and support.

This poem is my thank you to my human friends who have been there for me, including my family. I love and cherish you. it’s also a reminder to myself to work hard to be in the present, where life is happening with each breath.

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Comments on: "On Friendship, Loss, and Love" (9)

  1. Oh Michele…

    I can hear Harlee’s voice in that poem.

    Jim

    • Michele said:

      Thank you, Jim. It was good to know you and Sheila would be there for Harlee, if that ever was needed.

    • Michele said:

      You know, Jim — I didn’t realize I was writing this from Harlee’s voice until you said what you did. Wow. Amazing what we learn about our Muse’s power at times like this.

      Thank you!

  2. Jodi Arend said:

    Michele,

    We miss you, Len, and Harlee so very much. She was such a kind, warm soul and the lack of her presence is felt. Know that we all love you so very much and think of you often.

    She is at peace, and her heart is forever with you and Len. That is the place she wanted it to stay.

    All of my love,

    Jodi

    • Michele said:

      You helped spoil her, Jodi, and we loved it. Thank you for your support, laughter, wonderful attention, and the compassion for all of us.

      “She is at peace, and her heart is forever with you and Len. That is the place she wanted it to stay.”

      What a beautiful way of putting it. Hugs to all of you.

  3. Michele,

    I just returned from vacation to find this lovely poem. The picture of Harlee is amazing and certainly captures her essence. She truly was a special patient of mine and will live on in my heart. We can all celebrate a life well lived and be grateful for the time we shared with her. I think the companionship of a special dog, like Harlee, is one of life’s very greatest gifts.

    My best,
    Sheila Johnson

    P.S. In addition to being a wonderful dog mom, you are quite the poet too!

    • Michele said:

      thanks, Dr. J — you have a wonderfully gentle style, and always made both Harlee and me feel safe and cared for.

      I’ll stop by soon to say hello. And, thanks for the compliment!

  4. Michele, hugs. Dog friends are special.

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